Highly Offensive? | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Highly Offensive?

Last summer, WTAE news anchor Wendy Bell made headlines when, during a segment about sunscreen, she told her African-American co-anchor, Andrew Stockey, "I want whatever you're using." 

Such on-air gaffes aren't uncommon in the world of live television and radio broadcasting. But while comical or offensive blunders like Bell's are usually received by viewers and listeners with a quick chuckle or a wag of the finger, sometimes they're the subject of formal complaints filed with the Federal Communications Commission. City Paper recently asked the FCC for a list of all complaints filed against Pittsburgh television and radio stations in the past year. Here's a sampling:

Station: WPXI/NBC
Date of complaint: June 10, 2010
Complaint: "Guest on show said 'Cunt' twice. Followed by the anchor saying '... that's ok.' On network TV in the morning?"

Station: WTAE/ABC
Date of complaint: July 29, 2010
Complaint: "During the newscast at 11 pm on July 29, 2010, right before the weather forecast, and while talking with Meteorologist Stephen Cropper, Wendy [Bell] uttered the German expression: 'Oh [scheisse]!' which translates as 'oh, shit!' Isn't that punishable?"


Station: WTAE/ABC
Date of complaint: July 30, 2010
Complaint: "Wendy Bell, in response to a question from the weather man, responded 'Oh, scheisse'. This is German for 'o[h], shit'. This is an inappropriate comment in any language on a regular news broadcast."

Station: WTAE/ABC
Date of complaint: Jan. 10, 2011
Complaint: "While watching the weather segment at 9:50 am est., the female weather person said the word 'fuck.' She was trying to say 'weather front' instead she said 'weather fuck.' With no apology she continued through with her news cast."

Station: WPGB/104.7 FM
Date of complaint: Feb. 22, 2011
Complaint: "I heard Rush Limbaugh say that the students in Wisconsin can't 'fricken' read. Fricken is a substitute for fucken [sic]. We all knew what he meant."

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